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having toes instead of hoofs ; or another animal bearing a
general resemblance to a bird, but having no feathers and
being provided with teeth; or an immense lizard flying
through the air on wings which measured twenty feet from
tip to tip, we might be in doubt as to the proper classification
of each, or else whether it would be advisable to dine out
again for the space of a month ; yet geologists soberly assure
us that such creatures have existed by the thousands requiring
no microscope to discern them.

But to return to our classification. We have seen that
natural sciences are divided into biological^ which we have just
considered and physical, to which latter let us turn for a
moment. Physical sciences deal with the material universe
and the laws which govern all its subdivisions. First, we
• have astronomy which holds for its realm all the heavenly
bodies, our own planet included, and calling mathematics to
its assistance propounds the laws under which they roll through
space. Second, natural philosophy, or physics proper, which
studies the laws which govern bodies in mass on our own
planet, and derives great assistance from both mathematics
and cunningly devised experiments. Third, chemistry which
investigates the ultimate constitution of all bodies, organic
and inorganic, shows that they are all composed of a compara-

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tively few elements variously combined with each other, and
studies the reciprocal reaction of bodies in a molecular condi-
tion. And last, geology, including mineralogy, which studies
the various inorganic materials which go to make up this
globe, the successive layers which compose its crust, and,
going back of all human history or tradition, shows in what
manner the Almighty saw fit to evolve from chaos the com-
plete, beautiful and ever varied world which He has furnished
ior our temporary home. It incidentally derives great aid
from chemistry, and must necessarily take into consideration
the botany and zoology of by-gone ages.

Investigators in almost every branch of the natural sciences
have at one time or other in the world's history been scoffed
at, ridiculed or persecuted by the theologians on account of
the conclusions to which they were forced as the result of
their researches. The theologians claimed that the scientists
were sceptics and atheists because, for instance, they were
persuaded that the Mosaic account of the creation of the uni-
verse could not be literally accepted; it was claimed that
there was a conflict between science and religion. Now I
want to submit for your earnest consideration one thought in
this connection. We all believe in the existence of a Deity
with the powers and attributes ascribed to Him by the theo-
logians ; we all believe that He created the universe, and that
He also created in us the faculties which we possess and the
mental necessityfor reasoning upon facts and arriving at con-
clusions; we also believe that in some sense or other He
inspired the writing of the Holy Scriptures. Now it is simply
impossible that such a being should have written one thing
in the Bible and another thing in the rocks or the stars ; it is
impossible that there should be any conflict between true
science and true religion. The trouble resides wholly in the
fact that both theologians and scientists are human, and
therefore, liable to err. Supposed facts may have been badly
observed ; or the array of them may not be sufficient for the
purpose for which they are used ; or the reasoning may not
be logical ; or the theologian may be in error in his interpre-

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tation of Holy Writ, which latter has thus far in most cases
turned out to be the fact. In any event, gentlemen, it is
impossible that there should be any conflict between true
science and true religion.

We have seen now that there are three great groups of
sciences — the metaphysical, the mathematical, and the
natural. The prime object of medicine is to prevent and
cure disease. To accomplish this the science of medicine
must first thoroughly investigate the healthy animal, man,
from every point of view; must then equally thoroughly
investigate all the processes of disease and the methods of
combating them ; and, finally, the practice of medicine con-
sists in applying the principles and remedies to individual
cases. Since man is a living animal the science of medicine
belongs to the zoological group of the biological division of
the natural sciences.

Concerning^ the metaphysical and mathematical sciences
little more need be said save that in some cases the influence
of the mental condition of the patient on his physical well-
being cannot be doubted, necessitating considerations and
treatment purely metaphysical. There are two notable pecu-
liarities also about the mathematical sciences. One is their
exactness, . and the other the convincing character of their
demonstrations. The sum of the three angles of a plane
triangle is always equal to one hundred and eighty degrees —
never a second, or a thousandth of a second, either more or
less. And when the demonstration of this fact has once been
understood the conviction of the truth of the statement is
absolute and cannot be gainsaid. Clergymen, lawyers and
doctors may differ ; but no one ever heard of a mathemati-
cian's disputing a problem of Euclid. It may be proven in
half a dozen different ways ; but once proved in any one way
it must stand for all time. And all the other sciences become
exact just in proportion as mathematics can be applied to them.

In the pursuit of its legitimate end medicine must study
the living body in health and disease. The body is simply a
material structure and the study of this constitutes anatomy.

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The. consideration of the processes by which the life of the
body is maintained constitutes physiology. If an engineer
were put in charge of some machine which he had never seen
before the very first thing he would do would be to examine
every part — all its levers and rods and valves and stop
cocks — and this he would do while it was at rest and pre-
sumably in good condition. This, gentlemen, is precisely
what we must do. We must first of all become thoroughly
well grounded in normal anatomy. A knowledge of anatomy
in all its details is the comer-stone on which the whole super-
wStructure of medicine rests ; if that is not well laid the build-
ing must inevitably be unsubstantial. If you have not a
minute and accurate knowledge of the v machine at rest you
cannot possibly have an intelligent understanding of it in
motion. You may learn from books to repeat descriptions of
the various organs and their relations to each other ; but this
will not give you what the good people call a saving knowledge
of anatomy. To obtain this you must see all the organs for
yourself ; you must see them over and over again ; you must
dissect in season and out of season — every opportunity you
can get. And that branch of anatomy known as histology,
which studies the intimate microscopical structure of the
tissues and organs, has, of late years especially, attained an
importance scarcely second to gross anatomy.

Next in order comes physiology, that branch which studies
the various processes in action during life — the manner in
which the various organs perform the duties assigned to them.
The exact nature and constitution of that evanescent, intangi-
ble and wonderful force the presence of which makes the
body a living man, and the departure of which leaves it an
inanimate corpse, we do not know — very possibly a compre-
hension of it is beyond human ken. But ours is not the only
science brought into touch with incomprehensible conditions.
As the astronomer gazes into the heavens on a clear, bright
night he may see our near neighbor the moon. I say our
near neighbor, for its distance may be measured in miles, and if
a good road led to it, and we walked four miles an hour for ten

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hours a day, we could reach it in something less than seven-
teen years. He may see two or three planets, bodies not yet-
very distant — only a few thousands of millions of miles, more
or less. He will also see the fixed stars with dark spaces
between them, and turning his telescope towards these spaces
will there see hundreds of stars invisible to the naked eye
with dark spaces between them. We must admit that we are
now looking a great way oflf ; for if a cannon ball could keep
up its initial velocity directly towards one of these it would
not reach it in fifty millions of years — and that is a very long
time. But what is he to think of the spaces between these
stars ; it is impossible for him to form any mental conception
of infinite distance — distance with no limit — and equally
impossible for him to conceive of any boundary beyond which
there is no space. And yet we all know that space must be
either bounded or boundless. At every turn in all the
sciences we come upon conditions which we must admit, but
which it is impossible for us to understand, and this failure is
simply due to the limitations of the human intellect.

If physiology, then, has not taught us everything it has
taught us a great deal, and to hold up what it has not accom-
plished as an opprobrium to our profession is a gross injustice.
When it comes down to the ultimate reason for things what
does the physicist know about the reason for gravitation. He
may lay down the rule under which bodies attract each other
with great exactness ; but he is then just as far from explain-
ing why they attract each other as we are from explaining the
vital force. When he states the law of gravitation and tells
you that that is the reason why the object you drop from your
hand falls to the floor, do not be deceived ; that is not why, it
is only how, and he knows no more of the 'why than you do.

It must be easy for you to see now how very important is
physiology. It teaches us all that we know of the various
processes essential to the maintenance of life and health —
circulation, respiration, digestion and all the rest. If any of
you finally conclude that it does not teach you enough, go
right on with investigations in this line yourselves, and for

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every new fact you may add, and for every new explanation
of old facts, countless generations to come will rise up and
call you blessed.

Many of the changes that occur in the body are not posi-
tively and simply vital in their character. The atoms that
you take into your bodies through your stomachs and through
your lungs are separated from their original combinations,
and so thrown together anew as to form entirely different
compounds. The study of all these substances and of all
these changes comes under the domain of chemistry. The
force that brings about these reactions may be a vital one, but
the reactions themselves are, in many instances at least,
capable of being exactly reproduced, and studied, entirely
outside of the economy in a test-tube or flask of glass. The
illness of many of our patients is due simply and solely to the
lack or perversion of these chemical changes. Now, gentle-
men, if you have not the whole story of these changes at your
fingers' ends in the laboratory how can you expect to correctly
diagnose or treat a case in which they are at fault in illness ?

As I have previously said the study of the living body in
health must be completed, and its structure and various func-
tions thoroughly understood, before you can advantageously
study disease. Therefore anatomy, physiology and chemistry
are first taught you. And I earnestly urge you to become
well grounded in each ; for just in proportion as you do or do
not, you will find all that follows easy and enchanting, or dull
and difficult of comprehension.

Then follows the study of the various processes of disease,
some of them only perversions of the normal processes and
others entirely new ones. This is the domain of pathology.
The two branches medical and surgical, are commonly taught
separately and treated of separately in your text-books. This
is all well enough, if you only bear in mind that the processes
are in all essential particulars precisely the same in both and
the apparent differences are due mainly to the surroundings.
What you learn of surgical pathology can in a thousand ways
be applied to medicine, and vice-versa. The whole scope of

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this branch has undergone a complete revolution within the
past few years, due to the discovery of the fact that a whole
host of our most common diseases are due to the introduction
into the system of microscopical organisms of various kinds.
Advances are now being made so rapidly that text-books are
out of date before there is time to bind them, and he who
would strictly keep up with the most recent discoveries from
month to month must really have a half-dozen languages at
his command and access to a well furnished library of con-
temporaneous medical journals.

Having learned what is known of the structure and work-
ing of the body in health, and having studied the various
processes of disease, you naturally come to the practical
branches — those which teach the art of curing disease in
individual cases. But finst you must make a study of the
means which experience has shown us are of value in pro-
ducing the desired results — you must familiarize yourselves
with the materia medica, dcciSi with therapeutics which teaches
the art of using the means learned in materia medica. As this
latter is rather an independent branch, and must necessarily
precede therapeutics^ it is with entire propriety assigned to the
first year. Do not underrate its importance and do not
neglect it because it may seem to you .at the time dry and
uninteresting. Again do not be content with simply being
able to repeat what the text-books say about drugs, but make
the personal acquaintance of each one of them ; learn how it
looks and smells and tastes ; we all have much more confi-
dence in, and make much more use of, our friends than of
strangers of whom we have simply read. If, during one of
your vacations, you can get an opportunity to spend a few
months as clerk in a drug store you will never regret it.

We presume that it will not need argument to convince you
that the practical branches — medicine ^ surgery diXi^ obstetrics —
are important. Your preliminary studies are pursued for the
purpose of enabling you to grasp and apply these, and we are
sure that you will not fail to do so.

Now, gentlemen, you have commenced the study of that

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branch of the natural sciences which is by far the most
abtruse, intricate, fascinating and noble ; you have seen how-
many branches it has and how important each is in rounding
out and completing the whole ; eternal vigilance is the price
of success ; but the prize is within the grasp of each one of
you ; if only you are diligent and faithful the treasures you
will gather will amply repay all your exertions.

On the part of your faculty I take great pleasure in wish-
ing each and every one of you a year in every respect most
thoroughly satisfactory.

The New York State Association of Railway Surgeons

will hold its second annual meeting at the Academy of
Medicine, 17 West Forty-third street. New York, on Monday,
November 14, 1892. The profession is cordially invited.

American Public Health Association will hold its twen-
tieth annual meeting in the Salon de la Camara de Deputados,
City of Mexico, Mexico, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday, November 29, 30, and December 1,2, 1892.

The Pan= American Medical Congress. — The first meeting
of this congress will be held at Washington, D. C, U. S. A.
September 5, 6, 7, and 8, 1893.

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Albany Medical Annals

Alumni Association of the Albany Medical College,

Vol. XIIL— No. ii. NOVEMBER, 1892. $1.00 a Year.

The Annual Meeting of the Medical Society of the County

of Albany.

At the annual meeting of the .Medical Society of the County
of Albany held October 12, 1892, the following new members
were elected; Drs. J. C. Browne, R. H. Heenan, W. H. Con-
ley, L. H. Newman and W. G. Lewi.

The treasurer, Dr. Hennessy, made his report for the year
ending October 1 1 , showing : Balance on hand at commence-
ment of year, $23 1 .47 ; since received, $121, making a total of
$352.47. From this were disbursed $332.30, leaving a balance
of $20.17.

It was moved and carried as an amendment to the by-laws
that the dates of the annual and semi-annual meetings be

President Henry Hun delivered his address, which will be
published in the December number of the Annals,

The following officers were elected for the coming year:
President, D. A. Bartlett; vice-president, W. B. Sabin, West
Troy ; treasurer, John V. Hennessey ; secretary, J. L. Carroll ;
censors, Drs. Curtis, Hun, Mereness, Featherstonhaugh and
Van Rensselaer; delegates to the state association, F. L.
Classen, J. V. MacDonald, A. T. Van Vranken and T. F. C.
Van Allen.

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Dr. Bartlett, of the committee on hygiene, handed in his
report. The substance of it was to the effect that the com-
mittee had lately considered a system of manual training
adopted for the female pupils of the High school. The modus
of this system was that each pupil for one hour in the day
was at first given a piece of wood about eight inches long and
a knife, the handle of which had been properly constructed ;
and she was required to whittle this piece of wood into a
required shape. When she became expert at this whittling,
she was given a plane and a larger piece of wood, and she
was required to plane this piece of wood into a shape agreeing
with a model supplied her. After that the pupil was required
to do some sawing according to model. The committee thought
that the system was an excellent one, as it offered facilities for
the development of all the muscles of the body, besides train-
ing the eye and the touch. Parents might say that the system
was useless, as their daughters were never intended to be
house carpenters, but the fact remained that the system was
one^of the best which could be adopted for the physical culture
of their daughters. The only drawback to the system of phy-
sical culture resulted from the neglect of the pupils themselves
to listen to the dictates of nature. They laced themselves
tight and wore shoes with high heels, which threw the weight
of the body on the arch of the foot and deformed it ; but if
these abuses were remedied, the committee thought that the
system of manual exercise was as nearly perfect as modern
science could bring it.

It was moved that the report be accepted and the motion
was carried. It was then moved that the report be adopted,
but this motion, being out of order, was lost, and a motion by
Dr. Vander Veer that the report be made a subject of discus-
sion at the next meeting of the society, was carried.

To the Editor of the Albany Medical Annals:

Dear Sir — I respectfully but earnestly present for medical and
public opinion (after mature consideration) the business as now
carried on in this city of Albany the so-called carpet -cleaning or

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beating establishments. The city ordinances forbid any citizen
to shake any carpet on his own premises, to wit : yard, housetop
or roof. City authorities seem to not have considered that carpet
shaking done in buildings within the city limits with windows
wide open while being beaten, the dust is forced therefrom into
the streets and houses, while God's pure air is vitiated and we
good people are poisoned from inhaling the air impregnated, as it
certainly often is, with scarlet fever, diphtheria and tubercular
sputa, vermin and other poisons emanating therefrom. It is
hoped that our Board of Health will take into consideration this
matter and inquire and investigate so that at no distant day some
plan may be devised for relief from this nuisance so detrimental
and dangerous to the public health.

Yours respectfully,

H. S. Case, M. D.

©bttuati^ Botes.

Dr. James F. McKown died August 25, 1892, after an illness
extending over two years. His ailment began with a hacking
cough and developed into acute neuralgia. An examination by
physicians developed that the lungs were not affected, and it was
concluded that the disorders came from the nerves. Dr. McKown
has visited various localities in the hope of receiving some bene-
fit from climatic change, but to no avail. He returned to his home
on Hamilton and Dove streets several weeks since, and gradually
' weakened until the end yesterday. Dr. McKown was bom in
Guilderland forty-eight years ago, his father being ex-Surrogate
McKown. His medical education was obtained at the Albany
Medical college. While Dr. McKown was of a retiring disposi-
tion, still he was ever ready to respond to an appeal for aid, and
was genial and courteous. He was a member of Mount Vernon
Lodge, No. 3, F. and A. M.

FRISBIE — In Vallejo, September 24, 1892, Levi C. Frisbie, a native of
Albany, New York, aged 71 years, 5 months.

''No man in town could have been missed more than Dr. Fris-
bie," were the words of second thought that leaped from lip to
lip after the still more startling words, ''Dr. Frisbie is dead," had
winged their rapid flight through every home and shop in the city.

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For seven days Dr. Frisbie has been in his casket and that
casket a vaulted shrine. The first paroxysms of grief and surprise
alloyed with excitement have gone, the reaction has come to press
home upon all the realization that the sad prophesy was true.

The old sign hangs in front of the office but the office chair is
empty. A familiar form is missing from the street. The horse
that learned so readily the homes of the sick stands unharnessed
in the stall. The sick-bed visitor comes no more. In the be-
reaved home the sound of the husband's voice and tread have
ceased to echo. His room is vacant. In the house, which for
years has been his home, he lives only in the souvenirs and
memories which with concerted and ceaseless voices call the dead
back to the living, but his form is spirit. His lips are sealed and
mute. The finger so often enthroned upon a fevered pulse is
cold and callous to sense of touch and the heart that so often
throbbed in sympathy for the afflicted has stopped beating and to
all but memory he has gone. Thus in the places so long tenanted
by the familiar spirit, the sympathizing physician, the fatherly
adviser, and the patriotic citizen, only absence greets us.

The words are true. He is missed more than any man.

His death is hard to bear because it came so unexpectedly. It
is the sudden bursting of the storm that wrenches the forest oaks
severest. It is the sudden rushing of the waters that levels with
the greatest force. It is the sudden apparition of death that
shakes the deepest foundation of the soul. Had his friends been
warned by weeks of illness they would have been fortified against
the shock and it wovild have been to them less severe. It is true
that his years admonished all that his sun had traversed the arc
of a long life's day but all looked forward to a gradual sunset and
an extended twilight. Yet God knew best and the orb of light
and life dropped behind the western horizon and all was over.
With one short step he had passed from the warm arms of the
living who loved him to the cold embrace of death that sum-
moned him.

He is missed more than any man because he was known better
than any other man having been in Vallejo from the building of
the first house. He and the town grew old together. His pro-
fession brought him into everybody's home and made him the
friend and confidant of all. Being a physician schooled and
experienced beyond the average of his fellows his practice was

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accordingly large and as it reached across the lapse of forty years
the ties and friendships formed were many and strong. Mothers
whose advent into this world he attended called on him at their
maternity. All who were bom in Vallejo have had the doctor

Online LibraryMedical society of the County of AlbanyAlbany medical annals → online text (page 34 of 40)